Great Truck, but know what you're getting
By George on Tuesday, February 2, 2016
I own this car - My approximate mileage is
overall rating 9 of 10rating details
- Overall Rating
Pros: "real head turner, holds value like little else"
Cons: "noisy, thirsty, and expensive to buy"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have driven my Defender 90 for the past several years. Purchased it in Seattle and drove down to Texas over 4 days, even going going wheeling in Moab along the way, without any problems. It's actually a great truck. Most people buy them because of how they look, but they're actually quite reliable and easy to work on trucks. Most things can be removed with a screw driver and there is not a lot of electronics to worry about.
The V8 gas engine is good but the fuel economy is only around 12-13 mpg in the city. Also, the small fuel tank means only about 200 miles between fill ups. Keep in mind though that this is a truck geared for off road use, so the low gearing is not the best for speed or fuel economy. On the road, the truck is noisy and you will hear the engine. It's also not silky smooth like a Lexus and you will know you are driving a truck. But again, low geared transmissions typically are noisy, especially when they hold the gear trying to get up to speed. You can easily drive highway speeds, but just know that 65-75 is really around the most the Defender will be happy with. Around town, it's pretty easy to drive, mainly because of the short wheelbase and the high sitting position.
Speaking of sitting position, the seat is only adjustable forward and back, and the steering wheel is large, like a tractor, and fixed so no tilt. The american version has an odd sitting position where your feet are actually angled off to one side and not directly straight in front of you like in other cars. It's probably a remnant of the fact that the truck was designed for right hand drive. It is not horrible, but it is present.
All the switches work and I have not noticed any leaks (knock on wood) but it is an 18 year old British vehicle so I'm sure there will be some out there that do. The environment controls (heater and a/c) are pretty basic, so don't expect a bunch of options regarding where the heat goes or even that good temperature modulation. The a/c works pretty well, even in the Texas heat, but the heater can leave you a bit cold on chilly days, even in Texas "cold". Certainly the HVAC is not as good as modern cars (or even cars of the same vintage).
I drive my truck daily and having a good Rover mechanic is a must. We have a great shop here and they are the only ones who work on my truck. I have not had to fix much on my truck. The a/c needed some work which cost about $900 and the radiator had to be changed due to a leak which cost about $600 with labor and tax. Parts can sometimes be a challenge but there are good retailers in the states and you can buy almost anything abroad. Off-road ability is legendary so there is little I can add there.
Overall, it is a fantastic truck, even after all these years and it is relatively affordable to own if you find the right one. Since it is a specialty type vehicle, avoid ones with rust and needing a lot of work since parts can be harder to find within the states.
Best part is they hold their value and with the end of the Defender line, even in Britain in 2015, I can only see these Defender 90's value go up. My advice? Grab one when you can, wheel it, drive it, but take care of it because if you do, you'll probably still make money when you go to sell it. Whatever you do though, don't buy one thinking that it'll be as comfortable, good to drive or friendly as a modern car because you'll be disappointed and miss out on a truly great vehicle."
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